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Couple's therapy: retro band

Michelle and Chris Stainton are half of the ’80s band Rubix Cubed. By day, she is a teacher; he, an IT guy. By night, they like to be on stage, cranking out dance-worthy tunes. The band will play before the Cure.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Michelle and Chris Stainton are half of the ’80s band Rubix Cubed. By day, she is a teacher; he, an IT guy. By night, they like to be on stage, cranking out dance-worthy tunes. The band will play before the Cure.

GANDY/SUN BAY SOUTH — College, careers, marriage, parenthood — they have a way of stamping out a child's dreams of rock stardom.

Just don't bother telling that to Chris and Michelle Stainton.

In one of their biggest gigs yet, the couple will perform before the Cure concert Wednesday with their band Rubix Cubed outside the St. Pete Times Forum.

The heyday of MTV will likely seem alive and well with these children of the '80s.

And maybe with children of the '90s, too. The Staintons' 11-year-old daughter, Kayla, will likely take her usual spot near the front row.

"It's full involvement, across the board," Chris said recently in the living room of his family's Gandy/Sun Bay South home.

That means the kid comes along for many gigs, that the musicians dress to look the part of their '80s cover band theme, that a lot of the family's time is



spent on band activities.

Rubix Cubed isn't exactly a profession for the Staintons, but they're hard pressed to call it just a hobby.

When the band was born in 2006, Chris vowed there would be no shortcuts. "If we're doing this," he said, "we're doing it over the top."

The retro group takes more work than a normal bar band, partly because of the costumes. "We take the band seriously," he said, "but at the same time we're not afraid to look foolish."

Rubix Cubed stays busy playing corporate events and the local bar circuit. Wages are recycled back into the band for costumes and things like clips from '80s movies and commercials that the band plays between songs.

The Staintons have day jobs. Chris is director of information technology at Bern's Steak House, and Michelle teaches autistic children at Ballast Point Elementary.

The two met in 1994 while studying and performing theater at the Univer



sity of South Florida. College brought Michelle to Tampa from her native Mobile, Ala. Chris, a South Tampa native and Persian Gulf War veteran, was nearing the end of his eight-year stint in the Army.

Both had yearned to be onstage since childhood. Her degree in education and his in history didn't change that.

They married in 1996 and lived in Jacksonville and Dallas, chasing their careers. He found time to play in a host of bar circuit bands by night. They came back to Tampa in 2002 to be near family.

In 2002, Chris co-founded classic-rock cover band MunkeyFist but tired of playing biker bars by 2006.

"We wanted to move to bars like MacDinton's," he said, "trying to get 30-something yuppy girls dancing." Playing '80s music seemed the way to do it.

So MunkeyFist spawned Rubix Cubed, complete with costume change. Michelle, untrained as a singer, soon convinced her hus



band that she had a place in the band by singing the Go-Go's Our Lips Are Sealed in the car.

"I didn't realize how much I missed it," Michelle said of her return to performing on stage. "That adrenalin, that natural high you get when you're put on the spot."

Ballast Point principal Mary Cunningham thinks Michelle's performance prowess gives her a leg up in the classroom.

"She's very animated in the classroom. She's very upbeat," Cunningham said. "She communicates very well to her students. I think she's dynamite."

The Staintons have managed to keep their rock star egos in check.

"I love laughing at myself," said Michelle, who sports a Madonna outfit onstage opposite Chris' Miami Vice attire. "And I love laughing at Chris."

Daughter Kayla laughs at both of them during shows. "I kind of chuckle," she said as she nestled between her parents on the family couch.

"Why's that?" her father asked.

"Because you look funny."

>>a closer look

Chris and Michelle Stainton

Night gig: Members of '80s cover band Rubix Cubed.

Day jobs: Michelle, a teacher at Ballast Point Elementary; Chris, director of information technology at Bern's Steak House.

Car: Dodge Grand Caravan

Brood: Daughter Kayla, 11; cat Alex Lifeson

Michelle's role: Sings, plays tambourine.

Chris' role: Sings, plays bass and keyboards.

Stage names: Michelle is "Micky" (a nod to the Toni Basil hit Mickey). Chris is "Crockett" (the Miami Vice character). Rubix guitarist Steve Dillenbeck is "Bender" (from The Breakfast Club), and drummer Jason Edwards is "Spaulding" (from Caddyshack).

If you go

Rubix Cubed plays from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the plaza outside the St. Pete Times Forum in advance of the Cure concert. For more information, go to rubixcubedband.com.

Couple's therapy: retro band 06/05/08 [Last modified: Thursday, June 5, 2008 4:32am]

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